What are the odds of hitting a slots jackpot?

When visiting a casino whether online or land based, it's difficult not to be attracted by the promise of the huge progressive jackpot slots counters, ticking away in an ever increasing manner amid the flashing lights and sirens of the slots floor.

If you're like most players, you'll probably have dreamed about how you would spend the money if you won numerous times, but have you ever wondered what the odds of actually hitting the jackpot are? If you don't want us to pop your proverbial dream bubble, stop reading now.

If however you're curious as to what your chances really are of being the next jackpot winner, let's take a look at how these machines actually work.

When playing a typical weighted slot, the top jackpot prize symbol for each reel corresponds to just a single stop. This means that the chance of hitting the jackpot image on one reel is one in 64. If all of the reels are designed the same way, the odds of hitting the jackpot image on all three reels is one in 64 to the power of three or 262,144. For slots with even larger jackpots, the reel may have many more stops. This will obviously decrease the chance of winning the jackpot in question quite considerably.

At this point you may be asking yourself if the odds are really that bad? The answer is yes. Does this mean that you'll have to keep putting coins into the machine until you've inserted 262,144? No and here's why:

When you play a three reel slot you will not be able to ascertain whether your coin is the first or the 262,144th to be inserted. Secondly if the slot's payout rate is around 90%, you should generally enjoy a number of small wins before you hit the jackpot. This may mean that you end up pushing the spin button thousands of time, but it doesn't mean that you will have to spend a coin every time you do.

Let's look at this in detail, assuming that you are playing a 3 reel dollar slot that is advertised as having a 97% payout rate. You may interpret the payout rate as meaning that for every Dollar/Euro/Pound you spend, you'll get at least 97 cents back. You could be right but you may also be wrong! How so? Well your first coin could win you the jackpot, or perhaps your tenth or twentieth could, you may also win smaller payouts or none at all.

In true statistical terms, if this dollar slot really pays out at 97% you will general receive 7,760 coins back for every 8,000 put into it. So in true money terms the slot will only retain around $240 based on these assumptions. Who benefits from this retention will come down to random results, or as a layman would put it...luck. Contrary to popular belief, there is absolutely no way of establishing when a slot will payout. It may go for extended periods of time and retain in excess of say $3000 before it returns a cent, conversely it may generate several jackpots in a matter of a day. It all comes down to its random nature. All you can do is try your luck!